Horses were 'never the plan' for Yorkshire's rising eventing star Holly

Holly Richardson who will be aiming for the four star long format at this year's Bramham Horse Trials
Holly Richardson who will be aiming for the four star long format at this year's Bramham Horse Trials
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Richmond rider Holly Richardson is extremely modest in assessing her 2019 highlight.

Pleased to merely be competing at Yorkshire’s crown jewel of eventing for the first time, Richardson ended up being the county’s second highest-placed rider in Bramham’s CCI short-format four star.

“I was just lucky to have a good run!” says the humble 27-year-old rider.

Yet a taste of the big time definitely has the eventer yearning for more and now targeting Bramham’s main event in 2020 and dreaming of stepping out at Badminton in the long term.

Riding now 11-year-old gelding Caraghs Buffet, Richardson excelled on her Bramham debut last June when finishing as the second highest Yorkshire rider in 22nd place from a dozen riders representing the White Rose in the CCI short-format four star, behind only Northallerton Olympian Nicola Wilson who came fourth on JL Dublin.

Richardson competed on eight different horses throughout 2019, as a whole with Caraghs Buffet also stepping out at Chatsworth and Blair Castle.

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Some going for a rider who has effectively been competing as something of a hobby and targeting a career in racehorse science in the long term after her studies at university.

But a fine 2019 on the eventing front now has Richardson studying plans for some of the sport’s bigger events in 2020 with Houghton International, Osberton and Bramham on the agenda for the forthcoming year.

Even if a fine first effort at Bramham came as something of a surprise, there is no denying both the outing and performance have fuelled the fire for more.

“Looking back at last year we had some really brilliant days,” said Richardson.

“Bramham was a huge highlight and although I know I was just lucky to have a good run at our first one it definitely gave me a taste of what it feels like to ride around a ‘big feel’ event.

“It gave me even more incentive to keep on improving to make sure we can come back year after year.

“It was also good to see some of the young horses put in such good results in only their first season eventing, and after a holiday they are now back in training and building on what they learnt last year, so it will be exciting to see how they improve!

“This year I am hoping to be back at Bramham with Caraghs Buffet, hopefully this time for the long format four star, and also Blenheim in September would be an exciting end of season aim.

“We are also planning to head to Houghton International at the end of May with two lovely horses, Bally Louis owned by Andrew and Julie Wingfield, and the really exciting seven-year-old Ipache who Julie co-owns with Melissa Chapman.

“I work closely with Melissa at her dressage yard in Catterick and we have some lovely four-year-olds for this season who we will plan to get out to some Burghley Young Event Horse classes with the aim of going to the Osberton young horse showcase at the end of the year.”

For Richardson, an introduction to riding began aged 12 but the rising Richmond star headed for Durham University thinking her eventing days were more or less done.

“It wasn’t really the plan because I went to university and did that first and then sort of ended up with the horses again,” explained Richardson.

“I started riding for Karyn Dixon when I was 12 and I was riding for her until I was about 20 and then I went to university after that and then she moved away to Ireland.

“None of my family are horsey so I don’t really know where it came from. We live on a farm so I have always been into animals but not really horses.

“Even my mum came to watch me at Bramham and she never comes to watch. It must be a big event!”

Now, though, if Richardson’s progress continues then her nearest and dearest might one day be watching the Richmond rider compete at something even bigger.

Assessing dreams of the sport’s five stars and even the Olympics, Richardson pondered: “When you are young that’s what you think you are going to do.

“I don’t know, it’s all about the horses. I don’t really know how far he would go but I just keep seeing if he has got a ceiling or not.

“I’ve got a few, about five or six others. They are probably not like top event horses but you never know until you do it, do you?

“I’d like to do it but I don’t know if I’d be good enough.

“But if I had the right horse, I would like to see if I could go and do that. Go and ride around Badminton, that would be the aim...”